Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Alternative Medicine

Sunday afternoon about 5 I came down with what was most likely food poisoning.  2 hours later, I was still vomiting (with nothing in my stomach) and in such shape that I was seriously considering calling my doctor.  Mary decided to call the Espinosas instead; both Maritza and Ricardo are big believers in medicinal plants and have a great many in their beautiful garden.

Maritza recommended an infusion of guanabana leaves in water; she said it would have effect rapidly.  Guanabana is a delicious fruit here, the soursop, and we had planted 2 trees three years ago.  Mary gathered leaves, made the infusion, I drank maybe a couple of tablespoons of this concoction that tasted like boiled leaves--and just about instantly, the vomiting (and the accompanying diarrhea) stopped.  I was able to rest for the first time, and managed a half-way decent night's sleep.

  Yesterday afternoon, they came over with another medicinal remedy, the resinous bark of a tree whose name I didn't catch but which we'll get tonight.  Ricardo brought us a small branch that we can plant in order to  have our own tree.  Another infusion, which tasted worse than the first!  Imagine something that smells--and tastes--a little like turpentine.  Maritza, laughing, said that of course it tasted bad--it was medicine, and therefore it was supposed to!  I well remember this theory from my mother who was convinced that the worse it tasted, the better it was for you.

I reserve judgement on the correlation between taste and benefit, but I am a believer in the guanabana leaf infusion.

Ricardo has this  old, old book called Indigenous Medicines which I'm going to search for.  It has a lot of remedies from medicinal plants.  Last night, Martitza and Ricardo recited a whole list of such remedies, from ingredients that are easily available here, never mind from the plants themselves.  I was in no shape to remember them, but it's something I intend to pursue.

It's like having your own physicians just a few minutes away.  


Mary said...

Glad you're feeling better.

Anonymous said...

Hola Joyce:

I'm glad you're feeling better and didn't have to go to the doctor.
We need you in good health and spirit to keep us entertain with your interesting blog.
So, your friend Marirza is a curandera too!! I will keep that in mind when I move to David. You and Mary are lucky to have such nice neighbors.
Thank you for your videos of the Dolega school children. They all looked so cute and inocent. Sometimes I miss my years working with children in Panama. I hope you can get involved volunteering with education in your town, and tell us all about it, if you do.

Take care,
La Chiricana

Richard said...

Being sick sucks. There's no reason to look down on natural cures. After all, didn't aspirin derive from willow bark?

Once I had a similar stomach bout in France. My girlfriend told me to take a double shot of Ricard pastis, a Good & Plenty-tasting liquore (sp) that is normallt cut with water. I thought she was nuts. Drinking an alcoholic drink to cure nausea? Well, I DO like pastis and before I had finished the requesit dosage I actually DID feel better. Stopped vomiting almost immediately and back to normal within an hour. Of course the the little buzz I got was just a little frosting on the cake.

Joyce said...

I'm used to the idea of medicinal herbs and plants. There were remedies I used back in the US but they were from temperate zone plants, NOT tropical ones. I'm out of my depth here. I became acquainted with tropical ones in Brasil. There, the people are so poor that they rely on these remedies, and they work--I know, I've used them.

Yes, La Chiricana, I would call Maritza and Ricardo both curanderos. They really know their stuff. And yes, we are truly fortunate in our friends.

Plus, they left us food! I can't eat it yet, but I know here it is and I will definitely get to it when my stomach feels less fragile.


Theresa in Mèrida said...

I'm glad to hear that you are better. We have guanabana here too, mostly it's served mixed with water as a licuado. The all purpose cureall here is the sour orange tree. My neighbor says that a tea made of the leaves cures all tummy ailments. I haven't tried it yet.

Joyce said...

Hi, Theresa,

Guanabana is used for juices and also just eating. The Espinosas and I were talking about the different plants used in different areas. some, we're pretty sure, just go by different names. Others are not the same plant. My guess is that as humans evolved within the environment, a multiplicity of plants evolved as well that were useful for various ailments. For example, Ricardo listed a whole bunch of plants that are useful in treating liver ailments, including cirrhosis. There seem to be quite a few plants that affect the liver, which makes sense, since the liver is the chemical powerhouse of he body. I'm growing a plant Ricardo gave me which is good for the liver, called boldo. I hope to slowly add others.

I'm just grateful that we had the guanabana trees, although I'm certain Ricardo would have been down here to bring the leaves himself if we didn't have any.


Anonymous said...

Beats the hell out of Pepto Bismol.I hate that stuff.


Tracy said...

Joyce - I just now read your post. I hope you're feeling better today!

Joyce said...

Hi, all--

Just a quick note to thank everyone for their well wishes. I'm ok but still recovering. It was a pretty hard siege that lasted actually nearly 4 days, thanks to a relapse, and it's taking me a while to recover my strength. I am working on a new post but am taking my time about it.

But thanks again!